Graham Croker

Lisa Sthalekar, the international women’s cricketer of the year for the past two years, has started the 2008-09 season in the same form, leading Australia to successive wins over India in the first two of five one-day internationals being played in Sydney and Canberra.
The Universities Women’s Cricket Club and NSW captain scored 73 from 69 balls in the Southern Stars’ eight-wicket win at Hurstville Oval on Wednesday, and backed that up with an unbeaten 104 in Australia’s 86-run win at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday.
In the match at Hurstville, Sthalekar shared a 116-run partnership with Universities team-mate Alex Blackwell, who cracked 75 from 101 balls as Australia chased down 184 to win. The pair scored freely, with excellent placement and hard running between the wickets.
Indeed, Blackwell and Sthalekar scored so freely, Indian strike bowler Jhulan Goswami was forced back into the attack ahead of schedule in the middle overs in an attempt to break the partnership, but her efforts were not enough to stop the Southern Stars’ pair.
Blackwell hit 10 fours in her 75 and Sthalekar nine in her unbeaten 73. The run-rate did not drop at the fall of Blackwell’s wicket in the 33rd over, and captain Karen Rolton and Sthalekar wrapped up the match with more than 17 overs to spare.
Earlier, Australia’s young fast bowling trio of Ellyse Perry, Delissa Kimmince and Emma Sampson – all right-arm bowlers – had put the strong Indian batting line-up, including Mithali Raj and Anjum Chopra, to the sword.
Kimmince trapped opener Jaya Sharma in her second over and Chopra’s attempt to revive the innings with a 59-run stand with Sulakshana Naik took up 17.5 overs. When Naik was caught and bowled off Kirsten Pike for 39 India had mustered up just 67 in 21 overs.
Three more wickets fell with the addition of 22 runs in the next 12 overs. Perry removed Raj and Chopra in successive overs before Sampson bowled Thirush Kamini for a duck.
Jhulan Goswami and Rumeli Dhar, India’s strike bowlers, chipped in with the bat and took India to 150 before Sampson had Goswami caught for a 45-ball 46. While India scored at 3.66 an over, Australia raced to the target at nearly five.
The Southern Stars batted first at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday and finished with 6-215 off 50 overs, thanks largely to Sthalekar’s 104 not out. Kate Blackwell made 10 and sister Alex Blackwell made eight.
Australia dismissed India for 129, with Sthalekar taking 1-15 to go with her second ODI century.
The third ODI will be played at North Sydney Oval on Wednesday, with the fourth and fifth matches to be played a Manuka Oval, Canberra, on Saturday, November 8 and Sunday, November 9.